The first album I ever bought with my own money was Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, a side-long extended version of the hit single disco version of Star Wars by Meco. It was the soundtrack to many a bedroom light saber duel between myself and my kid brother, and probably more of an influence on my band than I care to admit. Propelled by a non-stop disco beat, hot bass licks and oodles of synthesized lazer sounds, Side A of the album boils John Williams’ entire soundtrack down to 15 minutes and 47 seconds of fun. Side B, entitled Other Galactic Funk, is the definition of musical filler: A single track of high school marching band rudiments, funk bass and horns which is skeletal by comparison. Still, its military beats came in handy when it was time to clean up my room.
The front cover art is a fruit-juicy late 70′s airbrushed classic, and the back cover credits musicians from the planets Serutu and the Fooyea (by special dereee of the Nomel Tribunal) playing Bontins, Slikins, Clomatrons and Hyper-Harps. The liner notes also list the translating computers used to communicate with the alien session men and provides the model number of the teleporter used to beam them into the studio. Producer Meco Monardo’s earthling studio crew actually included arranger Harold Wheeler, synthesizers by Suzanne Ciani and tape effects by Tony Bongiovi, Jon Bon Jovi’s older brother.
Along with Superman, Star Trek, The Black Hole, and An American Werewolf in London, Meco tried the formula again with The Empire Strikes Back to less musical and commercial success. He also gave Close Encounters a shot in with ‘Encounters of Every Kind“. Again, not bad, but not great. His subsequent stab at funkifying The Wizard of Oz is to be avoided at all costs.
Of course, Meco wasn’t the only one getting into Star Wars musicals in the late 70′s, but few did it with as much cringe-inducing dorkiness as Donny and Marie Osmond. In the Osmond’s TV version, Kris Kristofferson played Han Solo, and Red Foxx played Obi Wan. To make matters worse, Paul Lynde appeared as Grand Moff Tarkin, wearing a watercolor set in place of Empire medals. George Lucas was not above allowing the acutal C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Stormtrooper and Darth Vader costumes to be used in the skit. Actually, I kinda like it, but if you choose to click the video link below, don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
I’m guessing the lead singer of euro-disco rebels The Creatures (not to be confused with the UK band of the same name) didn’t get permission from Lucas to don a Darth Vader helmet on the cover of their debut album, ‘Expansion‘. The half-dressed Darth is joined on the cover by a guy in a Ming The Merciless outfit, what appears to be a couple of P-Funk refugees and two robots that look like air-conditioning units. The music ain’t bad, especially the lead off track, ‘Machine’s Drama‘, which blasts off exactly like The Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me, Baby?’
What could be scarier than a guy dressed like Darth Vader in your band? Well, how about TWO guys dressed like Darth Vader?!!! The German duo, Warning (not to be confused with the UK band of the same name) didn’t have exact Darth replica costumes, in fact, they look a little more like the pilots on the cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Never Say Die‘ album, but still, the force is strong with these two. Imagine Cookie Monster singing over heavy metal disco and you get the idea. Death-metalers Pungent Stench brought Warning’s hit single ‘Why Can The Bodies Fly‘ back in the 90′s, electronic bleeps and all.
The Star Wars musical saga continues: More recently, the planet Earth was treated to Grand Moff Tarkin, a full-on Star Wars themed rock group. The band, totally decked out in Star garb, play Ramones-styled originals with priceless song titles like “Burnin’ Mos Eisley Down” and my favorite, the ultimate intergalactic break-up song, “I’m Not the Droid You’re Looking For‘!
Hire them for your next wedding, Bar Mitzvah, or birthday party.
NEXT WEEK: DISCO ALLIANCE